Cable Ties – ‘Far Enough’

By Ian Kenworthy

With a punk aesthetic, a solid rhythm section, and a love of noise, Melbourne’s Cable Ties have an agenda, and they want you to listen. Releasing their self-titled debut in 2017, the three-piece have since been building their fanbase – now, having signed to Merge Records, they are unleashing album number two.

On their first record, the band’s hard-edged blend of post-punk wasn’t always the easiest of listens. At its best marrying mucky understated basslines, stabbing guitars, and wailing vocals, it had promise, even if it couldn’t always deliver. With ‘Far Enough’ they’re stretching out, pushing aside the first album’s missteps in a more confident offering.

Cable Ties have a sound that’s hard to pin-point. There’s a good helping of garage rock in their songs, but they also like to throw genres like boogie, krautrock, and post-punk into the mix. Here lies the problem. Not because they try different things – but because each feels like a separate part of the band’s identity. When they’re focused, they’re fresh and fun, but all too often they wander from the mark.

‘Hope’ gets ‘Far Enough’ off to a sluggish start. With a six-minute runtime, the song meanders along, struggling to grab your ears. A huge riff on the outro is a weighty delight, but it still sets the album off on the wrong foot. Thankfully 2018 single ‘Tell Them Where to Go’ follows hot on its heels, striding out with a huge bassline and pumping chorus that’s far more satisfying.

Throughout the album, Nick Brown’s bass is a highlight. Whether distorted and buzzing or riffing merrily, he keeps the music moving – especially important for a band who don’t know when to stop. On their first record, they could pad out their songs for ten minutes with only the bass providing momentum. This time around they’re a little more restrained, for the better. Yes, songs still sag, but at least they do it in style, and it’s clear where the band’s strengths lie. ‘Self-Made Man’ with its sawing bassline and snarling dog vocal is sharp and focused, and it’s also no surprise that the album’s best cut is ‘Not My Story’. An indie-punk jam filled with yelling and squalls of guitar, it’s fast, fun, and to the point.

On this album, singer/guitarist Jenny McKechnie has toned down her vocal histrionics, and is instead rousing and in control during every song – by using a different styling for every song, though, it can feel a bit disjointed. The first half of ‘Sandcastles’ is joyously repetitive, and it’s also uplifting when she’s yelping and squealing on the more upbeat songs, but this isn’t always the case. Closer ‘Pillow’ even teeters on the edge of being a ballad, threatening to become heart-warming and lovely but never quite committing, which is a shame.

As with the band’s debut, a strange inconsistency flows through this album. In many ways each song feels like it is being performed by a different band. This leads to interesting ideas, but they are not well integrated. For example, ‘Lani’ offers some grubby lead guitar, which is exciting for a while, but becomes monotonous. As a result, you’ll find your attention wandering long before the song’s end. Here, and at other times, the rough edge can also bite a little too hard. The massive dirt-bomb ‘Anger’s Not Enough’ is noisy, over-long, and leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth.

Swinging between biting punk and tedium, ‘Far Enough’ is another mixed bag from Cable Ties. There are nuggets of greatness and some noisy thrills, but its lack of focus makes the album hard to recommend.

IAN KENWORTHY

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